Book review: A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain
Travel back to and see them again for the first time. PopMatters turns 20 years old this October and we're beginning to celebrate our history by taking you back in time a decade ago. Obama was in the White House and the musical times were very good indeed.
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'A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain' Looks at the Modern City in Decay - PopMatters
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Neurosis and Jarboe collaborated on a stunning album of heavy metal experimentation back in Now the album has been remastered and it's time for a fresh appraisal. All rights reserved. Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated. Powered by RebelMouse. Owen Hatherley critiques not only the architecture of recent urban redevelopment, but also the politics behind it.
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History will pass verdict, sometimes alarmingly quickly, on what we build. And there will always be reactionaries waiting in the wings, their howitzers charged and mortars primed, even if in lucky Britain the artillery is usually metaphorical. Owen Hatherley is a tyro architectural critic. He is a modernist.
There are many kinds of modernists. They are as one in their scorn for Prince Charles's attempts to move the entire country into Georgian market towns, but they are united by little else.
One modernist's cutting-edge residential block is another modernist's design nightmare. Hatherley is a passionate, hip, socialist, inner-city modernist. He believes, unassailably, architecture is not - or should not be - an isolated, academic practice. Where we live and work reflects who we are. Buildings matter. There are differences. Hatherley also visits Scotland and Wales, and he devotes himself to conurbations. Priestley, even if he were writing today, would not stud his descriptions of Sheffield, as Hatherley does, with worshipful references to Pulp and the Human League.
But Hatherley is as concerned as Priestley was with the way that people are made to live by the powers which build their homes and environment. Prince Charles and the heritage industry may pretend otherwise, but the vast majority of us have lived in cities for almost two centuries, and will continue to do so. Owen Hatherley goes through selected British cities wide-eyed, witty and wondering … what are our cities for?
In his search of the answer, he zig-zags across Britain, from his native Southampton haunted by the Titanic, even architecturally to the functioning "non-city" of Milton Keynes; from "the mausoleum of Blairism" in renovated Manchester to the thrilling blend of old and new that is 21st-century Newcastle. Eventually, he winds up in Glasgow.